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Power multis try for record trip around

Jan 1, 2003

Attempts at the world record for the fastest circumnavigation aboard a powerboat are being made this year by two teams of American adventurers. Although not engaged in a formal race, the high-powered multihulls will be competing for the 83-day record that is now held by the nuclear submarine USS Triton. The 77-foot catamaran Global Victor, powered by a pair of Caterpillar 3196 diesels, will be driven around the globe by powerboat celebrity Sid Stapleton, author of Stapleton's Powerboat Bible, who also earned respect in the powerboat circuit by making a 15,000-mile passage from Maine to Alaska in a Grand Banks 49.

Ironically, the fastest circumnavigation, 71 days, 14 hours, is held by a sailboat, the 90-foot trimaran Sport-Elec, but no such record attempt has been made by a recreational powerboat. Stapleton will not follow the traditional route for quick circumnavigations, however. "I say that if you want to go around the world, you ought to go around the fat part," he said. "The sailboat guys run down to about 40° south, zip around the South Pole, and then come home and say they've been around the world." Stapleton expects to depart from San Diego, Calif., in July for an east-to-west voyage, with refueling stops planned approximately every 2,500 miles.

The other attempt to establish a powerboat record will be made in a high-speed trimaran in February by former TransPac race winner Steve Shidler. The 60-foot trimaran Revolution, which will accommodate Shidler and two other crew, is equipped with hydraulic rams in the outrigger supports that can allow 18 inches of vertical movement for shock absorption and stability. As someone who is obsessed with the idea of efficiency, Shidler said that his record attempt will establish parameters for efficient powerboat voyaging. "We combined racing multihull sailboat technology with engine management technology from fast ferry designs," said Shidler, who explained that his new vessel actually costs one-third less per mile to operate than a sailboat. "Even though the wind is free, all the stuff you need to catch the wind is terribly expensive," he said.

Revolution, which will cruise at 21 knots in most conditions, as was discovered during the vessel's sea trials on the West Coast, will depart from the Miami Boat Show in February. Both Shidler and Stapleton hope to complete their voyages in less than 70 days.